Financial Update (First Quarter 2009)

Fed, Brookings Examine Concentrated Poverty

'The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America' brochureIn an effort to develop strategies to combat concentrated poverty, the Federal Reserve System joined the Brookings Institution to study 16 U.S. locales where poor populations are clustered.

The case studies include immigrant communities and neighborhoods crippled by economic disinvestment and migration to suburbs. Community Development staff from the Atlanta Fed analyzed the communities of East Albany, Ga., and Little Haiti in Miami. 

Communities' differences, similarities probed
The final composite report, Concentrated Poverty in America, reviews research findings that examine the effects of concentrated poverty on individuals and families, their neighborhoods, communities, and the areas that surround them. The study considers similarities among the selected communities, but it also stresses the differences among them. The variety of circumstances, problems and opportunities in pockets of concentrated poverty adds to the complexity of addressing the needs.

Albany report off-site image
Little Haiti report off-site image
Full report off-site image

Finding microcosms of poverty
East Albany, for example, is the poorest part of a city that is less affluent than many other American cities. East Albany faces widespread teenage pregnancy, low educational attainment, a lack of community leadership and social services, scarce retail and economic development, and an entrenched sense of economic and social isolation, according to the study.

The East Albany community of 10,500 is 91 percent black with a poverty rate in 2000 of 45 percent, compared to 21.5 percent for the entire Albany metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

"Within a city and region facing many economic challenges, the obstacles for East Albany are even greater," the report said.

Little Haiti, a community of about 19,000 people on the northern edge of Miami, faces some of the same issues as East Albany but encounters others as well. Poor education and job training as well as a general lack of strong community leadership are common threads, according to the report. Little Haiti is far poorer than the surrounding area: The poverty rate is 44 percent, more than triple that of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale MSA while the median household income of $15,277 is less than half the MSA number.

Many residents of Little Haiti, an estimated 45 percent of whom are Haitian or Haitian-American, face the added difficulty of a language gap and uncertain immigration status.

January 29, 2009